A number of science and education items are available to check out in the library’s innovative items  collection.

A number of science and education items are available to check out in the library’s innovative items collection.

Photo provided by the Rochester Hills Public Library

Library’s ‘innovative items’ collection offers oculus, carpet cleaner, movie projector and more

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published June 28, 2023


ROCHESTER HILLS/ROCHESTER/OAKLAND TOWNSHIP — The Rochester Hills Public Library is giving patrons a fun way to beat summer boredom this year.

The library’s new innovative items collection allows patrons to check out technology, toys, tools, household items, equipment and more.

“This is our library of things, if you will. We call it the innovative items collection,” said Wendy Lehman, the head of youth services. “You can come in and check out a carpet cleaner or an electric guitar, a keyboard or a stud finder.”

The library launched the collection two years ago, but staff say many patrons aren’t aware it’s available, and new items are being introduced often.

“We have some really cool items, and a lot of people don’t know about them,” Lehman said.

The collection includes everything from air compressors and headlamps to specialized cake pans and microscopes.

Allison Sartwell, the head of adult services, said a few of the most popular items include sewing machines, an Oculus virtual reality headset, a set of night vision goggles, and a film and slide scanner.

“Our goal with it was to give … patrons access to items that they would maybe want to use once or twice, but don’t want to own and store all the time, and a chance to try something out without buying it,” she said.

Those hosting a summer backyard movie night can check out a projector and inflatable movie screen. There are many other gadgets, including moisture meters, an air quality detector, DVD players, CD players and more.

Aspiring photographers can check out the lens kit for iPhones, a 360-degree camera, a GoPro Action Camera or a crystal ball photography kit.

In the arts and craft category, patrons can bring home an artist easel, a craft oven, a cricut machine, a crochet kit, an electric fabric cutter, a microwave flower-pressing kit, a sewing machine, a rhinestone applicator kit, a tumbler turner, and more.

Parents can let their kids test out a five-piece large dinosaur toy set, an outdoor game, or even a video game console.

“If someone doesn’t want their kids to have a PS4 all the time, they can let them try it for a couple of weeks,” Sartwell said.

Under the new adaptability category, patrons can find an adaptive controller, color blind glasses and a color identifier, a large print keyboard for Mac computers, a left-handed mouse, a voice amplifier and more.

The innovative items are all housed on the second floor of the library, at the back, near the computer help desk. A valid Rochester Hills library card is required to check out all items, which must be returned to the innovative items collection desk only. Any items found in a drop box will incur a $5 fine.

“These have a reservation system, so instead of putting a hold on it and getting it when it comes back, you reserve it for a specific time, which is great for some of the stuff that we have, like our party kit and our camping kit. They check out for two weeks,” Sartwell said.

For a full list of innovative item collection materials available for checkout, visit catalog.rhpl.org.